Lush: bringing activism to the high street

Lush’s SpyCops campaign was held up as a botched example of brand purpose. But perhaps it was misunderstood. We talk to Ethics Director Hilary Jones about Lush’s radical approach to activism

Lush caused a social media storm last year when it used its windows to draw attention to dubious undercover policing tactics. Writing in Creative Review’s sister title Marketing Week, Mark Ritson said the brand’s SpyCops campaign was a new low for brand purpose: “You sell soap, for fuck’s sake. What makes you think that elevates you to the position of starting a public campaign against the police?” he wrote.

For a brand best known for its colourful bath bombs and all-natural cosmetics, it seemed an odd move, but it wasn’t the first time Lush had waded into a contentious debate. In the past decade, the brand has used its shop windows to speak out against fox-hunting, shark-finning, oil-drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, and human rights abuses at Guantanamo. These campaigns are part of a long-running initiative to support charities and activist groups that might not otherwise receive mainstream attention and raise awareness of some urgent but often overlooked issues in the process.